He fought the best of the best back to back for a decade and ducked no one. He was more willing to fight the best than anxone else from the mid 80s to late 90s. Yeah he sustained losses in that time but i personally don't count Bowe 3 and Mooter 1 as big detriments to his legacy because he was obviously impaired/sick/injured in some way for both of those fights. And even Bowe 1 would have been very winnable had he replied on his speed advantage instead of trying to knock Bowe out He won as a big underdog against both Bowe and Tyson. He started declining during his first reign as champion but managed to slow his decline(even though he had fights were he looked like old like Moorer 1 and czyz however that was not because he was shot but probably because of PED related side effects) by changing his style, siting down on his shots more and becoming smarter and more cautious so that he remained a really good fighter up until the Lewis fights. So even though he sustained losses in the relevant part of his HW career 88-99 his opposition more than makes up to it since the other great and near great HWs of the time didn't face that level of opposition back to back and were far more picky so those losses are more proof of his willingness than to fight anyone any time than proof of his inability. Holmes started ducking the best challengers while he was still champ. Bowes opposition other than Holyfield and Golota was terrible and his title defenses were laughable. No Mercer, Ruddock, Morrison, Lewis, Tucker etc Tyson, who I'm a fan of, had a career that was almost entirely fraudulent after prison outside of a few wins in 99-2000 which were mostly tainted also Lewis got KO'd cold in a way that was not becoming of an ATG(which he is) and fought Holyfield and Tyson too late Foremans second career also only contains a few good wins with mostly "filler" Another very important part of greatness for a HW imo is Chin and toughness and Holyfield had alot of that. In his prime every fight he was in was exciting.